All the right elements

kjahner@newsobserver.comJune 10, 2014 

Co-valedictorian Amber Courtney gives her share of the valedictorian speech.

CASEY TOTH — newsobserver.com Buy Photo

— Amber Courtney initially thought she wouldn’t be eligible for valedictorian when she decided to choose AP (Advanced Placement) classes over IB (International Baccalaureate.) Taking the courses she wanted was more important.

Turned out she could have it both ways.

Courtney blew through her coursework at Garner Magnet High to the tune of a 5.25 GPA, earning her co-valedictorian honors and the right to give a speech at Garner’s graduation.

The North Carolina Scholar will attend Wake Forest University on a hefty scholarship next year, where she will study chemistry and health & exercise science.

Her desire to take a science classes in a variety of disciplines rather than stick with a more regimented offering for IB drove her desire to pick AP.

Her choice to pursue chemistry indicates a lack of fear of challenges. She said that both her hardest and favorite class in high school was AP Chemistry.

Her favorite and most influential teacher was honors pre-calculus and AP Calculus AB teacher Pam Hedley.

“She was not only a really great teacher but she became a really great friend of mine,” Courtney said.

Like many valedictorians, Courtney did not limit her life to just school. The captain of the basketball team and Beta Club member had plenty to do. Of course with the time crunch, something had to give.

“No sleep. And a ton of coffee,” Courtney said. “I just take one thing at a time; I try not to overwhelm myself too much.”

Courtney has spent all but about a year of her life living in Garner, and looks forward to the next chapter. But she said she’s dealing with the usual graduate tug-of-war between the sadness of ending a good experience and the excitement of new ones.

“It definitely hasn’t hit me yet, but it has its ups and downs,” she said. “I am glad that this chapter is done and another one is starting. But it’s going to be hard to say goodbye.”

Jahner: 919-829-4822; Twitter: @garnercleveland

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